Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

MediaWatcher Notes: The Influence Of The Blogosphere Boosts Salesforce By Over Half-A-Billion Dollars

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 12, 2008

It always fascinates me to see how stories move through the blogosphere and into mainstream media. It is always interesting to watch what I sometimes term the "trajectory of ideas" within the mediasphere and the ripples of influence.

I like to watch these things because they sometimes reveal an underlying nature within society. One of my observations is noticing that the timing of the publication of a news story can make a big difference in the attention it gets. And the reason can seem counter-intuitive.

For example, I published an analysis of my scoop on exploratory talks of a possible merger with Oracle, about 5.30pm on a Saturday evening.

Clearly, it's not the best time to get out in front of a large audience. Yet there were enough readers and bloggers out there to quickly bring attention to the story. Within a couple of hours 15 sites linked to the post. By Sunday morning it was approaching 40 sites, which included links from key sites such as Techcrunch, Mashable, Techmeme and also my ZDNet colleague Dennis Howlett.

Au naturel linking...

The distribution of the snews tory continued to spread throughout Sunday on numerous blogs. I especially love to watch such viral distribution when it happens au natural, without any of the many promotional techniques available. I didn't email my blogger and journalist buddies to get their attention, or mass email my contacts, there was no "Digg" button, or any clever attempt to use keywords to attract search engine distribution.

It is always far more interesting to see how news stories get picked up and distributed by the Internet without using the promotional toolbox of technologies and techniques available. It reminds me of the early days of the blogger/journalist Internet community, when there was nothing much available to promote content except for the intrinsic value of the content itself, and the respect of your peer groups.

Buy the distribution...

These days, it is far easier to manipulate the distribution and reach of a blog post, news story, or video. These days, it can be easier to buy the traffic and the distribution reach, instead of doing the hard work in creating content that wins because its value.

We used to talk about the meritocracy of content as a core value of the blogosphere and the evolving Internet, and that now it didn't matter who could pay for the loudest voice. That is less true today and will continue to worsen over time.

Fortunately, meritocracy is still strong on the Internet, it is even there when you least expect it to find it, such as on a Saturday evening. BTW, it's wonderful and humbling to know that there are people reading and writing about Silicon Valley Watcher news stories on a Saturday evening when they could easily be doing something else...

I'm glad that my work gets the attention that it does. And the influence it has often astounds me. Plus I'm doubly glad it happens without having to dress up my news stories with any of the many promotional techniques and technologies that are available...

By Monday morning, the blogosphere had widely distributed my news story, and there had been plenty of time to analyze and debate the merits of a potential deal. The work of the blogosphere then helped investors reassess the value of the Salesforce business. At the opening bell Salesforce [ticker:CRM] gained about 9 percent in market cap value, or more than $500m. This was good news for CEO Marc Benioff and other Salesforce longs. Mr Benioffsells at least 10,000 shares of Salesforce every day, and has done so since mid 2006 (the power of dollar cost averaging). It was bad news for the large community of short sellers that Salesforce had recently accumulated [ticker:CRM.]

Interestingly, there is another aspect to Saturday publishing. I've noticed: the mainstream media is not very good at following up breaking stories at the weekends because of its skeleton staffing levels.

That is why the blogosphere often drives the news agenda on Saturday and Sunday because there isn't much mainstream media content to blog about and link to.

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